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The Apocrypha: Is it Scripture?

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by Matt Slick

The Apocrypha consists of a set of books written between approximately 400 B.C. and the time of Christ. The word "apocrypha" (απόκρυφα) means "Hidden." These books consist of 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees.

The Protestant Church rejects the apocrypha as being inspired, as do the Jews; but in 1546 the Roman Catholic Church officially declared some of the apocryphal books to belong to the canon of scripture. These are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch. The apocryphal books are written in Greek--not Hebrew (except for Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabees, a part of Judith, and Tobit) and contain some useful historical information.

Is the Apocrypha Scripture? Protestants deny its inspiration, but the Roman Catholic Church affirms it. In order to ascertain whether it is or isn't, we need to look within its pages.

Not quoted in the New Testament

First of all, neither Jesus nor the apostles ever quoted from the Apocrypha. There are over 260 quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament and not one of them is from these books. Nevertheless, a Roman Catholic might respond by saying that there are several Old Testament books that are not quoted in the New Testament, i.e., Joshua, Judges, Esther, etc. Does this mean that they aren't inspired either? But, these books had already been accepted into the canon by the Jews--where the Apocrypha had not. The Jews recognized the Old Testament canon, and they did not include the Apocrypha in it. This is significant because of what Paul says:

"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." (Rom. 3:1-2).
Paul tells us that the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. This means that they are the ones who understood what inspired Scriptures were, and they never accepted the Apocrypha.

Jesus' references the Old Testament: from Abel to Zechariah

Jesus referenced the Jewish Old Testament canon from the beginning to the end and did not include the Apocrypha in his reference."From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation." (Luke 11:51).

"The traditional Jewish canon was divided into three sections (Law, Prophets, Writings), and an unusual feature of the last section was the listing of Chronicles out of historical order--placing it after Ezra-Nehemiah and making it the last book of the canon. In light of this, the words of Jesus in Luke 11:50-51 reflect the settled character of the Jewish canon (with its peculiar order) already in his day. Christ uses the expression "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah," which appears troublesome since Zechariah was not chronologically the last martyr mentioned in the Bible (cf. Jer. 26:20-23). However, Zechariah is the last martyr of which we read in the Old Testament according to Jewish canonical order (cf. II Chron. 24:20-22), which was apparently recognized by Jesus and his hearers."
This means that the same Old Testament canon, according to the Jewish tradition, is arranged differently than how we have it in the Protestant Bible today. This was the arrangement to which Jesus was referring when he referenced Abel and Zechariah, the first and last people to have their blood shed--as listed in the Old Testament Jewish canon. Obviously, Jesus knew of the Apocrypha and was not including it in his reference.

Jesus references the Old Testament: The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms

Catholics sometimes respond by saying that the Old Testament is referred to in three parts: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. It is these writings that are sometimes said to include the Apocrypha. But this designation is not found in the Bible. On the contrary, Jesus referenced the Old Testament and designated its three parts as the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms--not as the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

"Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."(Luke 24:44).
So we see that the designation offered by the Roman Catholics is not the same designation found in the Bible, and their argument is invalid--as their argument is incorrect. Nevertheless, even if it did say "writings," it would not include the Apocrypha for the above-mentioned reasons.

Church Fathers

Did the Church fathers recognized the Apocrypha as being Scripture? Roman Catholics strongly appeal to Church history, but we don't find a unanimous consensus on the Apocrypha. Jerome (340-420), who translated the Latin Vulgate which is used by the RC church, rejected the Apocrypha since he believed that the Jews recognized and established the proper canon of the Old Testament. Remember, the Christian Church built upon that recognition. Also, Josephus the famous Jewish historian of the First Century never mentioned the Apocrypha as being part of the canon either. In addition, "Early church fathers like Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, and the great Roman Catholic translator Jerome spoke out against the Apocrypha."2 So, we should not conclude that the Church fathers unanimously affirmed the Apocrypha. They didn't.

source: carm.org
 
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The Jews rejected the "apocrypha" (mislabeled by protestants) AFTER Jesus, because those texts were frequently quoted to support Christ (read Origen and Hippolytus on Susanna), and the Jews wanted to discredit the early Christians. There is patristic support for every OT book missing in the protestant canon. Remember when the Sadducees asked Jesus about the hypothetical woman with multiple husbands who died, and asked about who would be her husband in heaven? They were directly referencing Sarah from the book of Tobit.

The Catholics call them deuterocanonical because they had the council of Trent. However, the real elephant in the room is the Orthodox church, who had no such council, and still to this day consider every one of those books canonical. The reason is because they are in the LXX, which is the standard translation among the Orthodox. The Dead Sea scrolls gave credibility to the LXX by providing Hebrew versions of said texts, which shows there was variation.
 
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All the book of the bible which we call canon come across to me as if the only way they could be written was by divine inspritation. None of the other books, apocrypha/deuterocanonical come across that way to me.
 
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All the book of the bible which we call canon come across to me as if the only way they could be written was by divine inspritation. None of the other books, apocrypha/deuterocanonical come across that way to me.
That doesn't mean anything. I could just say the opposite was true for me?
 
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That doesn't mean anything. I could just say the opposite was true for me?
Well, it means a whole lot to me!

I wasn't really trying to convince you of my position. I was just stating one of the reasons I, personally, believe the books in our current cannon are correct. To go into detail as to why these 66 (or 70 depending on perspective) books are the sum of scripture is a pretty monstrous task that doesn't seem worth the effort at this time.

Blessings,

Travis
 
Loyal
We do live for God by faith rather than by knowledge. So let us be careful with our final conclusions as to what is right in the eyes of God and what is not? Who knows God so well?

In the natural world around us are many things other than written through which God speaks at times to our hearts. The written scriptures are for me a very special source of the things of God for us if our hearts are open to receive what He is saying to us.

What is the scripture? It something that God gave to men to tell men something... but not everyone can see any of His message in the scriptures. Not everyone who can see any of His message in the scriptures will agree on every point.

Who am I, or who are you, to decide absolutely what is or is not scripture inspired by God? Catholic decided that one certain books were scriptural. Protestants decided that a slightly different groups of selection of books were scriptural. Has anyone in either group (Catholic or Protestant) ever been wrong about anything? Has either one of them ever been right? Has either one always been right?

My regularly reading includes the 66 books that many Protestants usually accept, but I also have copies of the Apochrypha, which I have read at times.

Where is it we find Truth? In and through the Holy Spirit, I believe, is the answer. Without the Holy Spirit directing I doubt that anyone can see any of the Truth. Unbelievers have read and studied the Bible, with or without the Apochrypha and they probably seldom understand correctly anything that they read. Unfortunately, believers also (myself certainly included) do not always understand everything that they read in scripture. What the Word of God must be to be real to a man is something that is Alive in his heart. This is where the Holy Spirit is needed: in a man. The Book even though written under the inspiration of God is not Alive while it remains unopened on a shelf. The same inspiration of the Holy Spirit required to write scripture, I believe, is required for a man to correctly understand any part of scripture.

If something from the Apochrypha could be quickened by God's Spirit, would it not be the Word of God? Who among us can say nay from knowledge?

Is God unable to speak anything that is not written in the Bible (any Bible)?
 
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RJ

I was just stating one of the reasons I, personally, believe the books in our current cannon are correct. To go into detail as to why these 66 (or 70 depending on perspective) books are the sum of scripture is a pretty monstrous task that doesn't seem worth the effort at this time.
I agree.
None of us will ever agree on everything, but if each of us is truly born of the spirit , then we should agree that Jesus was telling the truth to Nicodemus about the merits of being born again, and with him in us is what matters most. If by nothing else, It is by faith that we know Jesus is Lord and Savior, and that is what we can believe and agree to as each members of the same church. ...if you can't agree to that, you are more than probably lost and controlled by Satan. We are saved now and already raised to eternal life, whether we read another word of God, no matter what the book!
 
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If something from the Apochrypha could be quickened by God's Spirit, would it not be the Word of God? Who among us can say nay from knowledge?
No, I do not believe it would be the word of God.

Paul tells us that all scripture is God breathed and useful for teachings, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. God didn't breathe out/speak the apocryphal books. If he had, they would wouldn't have a single error in them in any way ( in the original autograph). To say something is scripture means a whole lot. It's a really big deal to be scripture, it means that God perfectly and precisely inspired it in it's whole and that every part of it is perfect, with no fault in any way being able to be found in it.

Even Satan will talk very much like scripture does, sounding very orthodox, but then slip a little heresy in here and there, which is so hard to notice. Many writting may have a ton of wisdom and different facets of truth in them, but to say that they are scripture is a whole different ball park. God speaks to me through nature, through other people, and even through writings of other men and women. But... none of those are scripture, and nothing that God speaks to me through them is absent from the scriptures (in a sense) either. The scriptures are perfect and sufficient, we don't need any of this other stuff the way we need the scriptures. Other's peoples writing are helpful, but they are fallible, and will not pass the same tests that scripture must pass.

To compare anything that wasn't given by God to actual scripture is to do one of two things: it is either to water down what it really means for something to be scripture, or it is to elevate something that originates from creation way beyond what it really is, and to give God credit for something he didn't do.

God can speak through anything he wants. But... I think it's a bad idea to start muddying the water on what scripture really is, or is not. God gave us something absolute and perfect for its use, in the bible, that no other word can compare to. If we lose the absolute authority and sufficiency of true scripture, we lose the source whereby we validate the Truth. Without the constraints and guiding of scripture we would be in utter chaos, not knowing which way is up, which way is down, or what is left and what is right. Scripture is sacred, and we are not to mix the holy with the profane. Everything man touches with his tools he makes profane. We need something wholly and solely from the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing less.

Blessings,

Travis
 
Loyal
No, I do not believe it would be the word of God.

Paul tells us that all scripture is God breathed and useful for teachings, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. God didn't breathe out/speak the apocryphal books. If he had, they would wouldn't have a single error in them in any way ( in the original autograph). To say something is scripture means a whole lot. It's a really big deal to be scripture, it means that God perfectly and precisely inspired it in it's whole and that every part of it is perfect, with no fault in any way being able to be found in it.
I essentially agree with what you stated above, but I do so without getting into what God considers perfect and without fault. They are not what man alone considers them although even Christians will use man's definitions to support an argument.

Even Satan will talk very much like scripture does, sounding very orthodox, but then slip a little heresy in here and there, which is so hard to notice. Many writting may have a ton of wisdom and different facets of truth in them, but to say that they are scripture is a whole different ball park. God speaks to me through nature, through other people, and even through writings of other men and women. But... none of those are scripture, and nothing that God speaks to me through them is absent from the scriptures (in a sense) either. The scriptures are perfect and sufficient, we don't need any of this other stuff the way we need the scriptures. Other's peoples writing are helpful, but they are fallible, and will not pass the same tests that scripture must pass.
I knew a very wise preacher once who said that every preacher he knew including himself was a liar. They were (are) liars because they still made mistakes due to their own ignorance. Until all of the ignorance is gone out of a man will he not tell lies of ignorance because he hasn't learned yet when to remain silent? Sometimes I wish I would have remained silent when I chose rather to speak.

To compare anything that wasn't given by God to actual scripture is to do one of two things: it is either to water down what it really means for something to be scripture, or it is to elevate something that originates from creation way beyond what it really is, and to give God credit for something he didn't do.
Everything was given by God, including the ability to twist the "very good" into something which is evil. Man started doing that in the garden of Eden and has built on it.

"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." Gen 1:31

"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee." I Chron 29:14

God can speak through anything he wants. But... I think it's a bad idea to start muddying the water on what scripture really is, or is not. God gave us something absolute and perfect for its use, in the bible, that no other word can compare to. If we lose the absolute authority and sufficiency of true scripture, we lose the source whereby we validate the Truth. Without the constraints and guiding of scripture we would be in utter chaos, not knowing which way is up, which way is down, or what is left and what is right. Scripture is sacred, and we are not to mix the holy with the profane. Everything man touches with his tools he makes profane. We need something wholly and solely from the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing less.
As to muddying the waters on what scripture is or is not, who is the authority other than God Himself? Truth is ultimately validated for a man by the Holy Spirit in his own heart. My pastor or minister may affirm my belief on a point, but I will know the truth when God confirms it for me. I may agree with you on point of doctrine, but that does not establish it. God does.

If the written Bible itself establishes truth then why do so many Bible believers disagree on so many things?

In spite of what I have said I do agree that scripture is our primary written source, I do not believe that scripture can prove truth to anyone without the quickening of the Holy Spirit. Chaos is natural state of any man who has not been changed by the power of God. Even the Bible being scripture is chaotic to a closed heart, but... "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matt 5:6

When a man takes scripture which was written under the inspiration of God and mixes it with profane products of his own heart, it will be chaos. Without the Holy Spirit even that which was divinely inspired is dead.
 
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God speaks to me through nature, through other people, and even through writings of other men and women. But... none of those are scripture, and nothing that God speaks to me through them is absent from the scriptures (in a sense) either.
I get that,my sheep know my voice.
So you really don't have to fear reading anything.
Like you in a way I feel if I look close enough there is divine inspiration everywhere.
I read the book of wisdom and Sirach often.
Whether they are divinely inspired or not I hear my masters voice in much of them.

Even our divinely inspired old testament is trumped by the Good news of Jesus.
Unlike David we do not pray for our enemies destruction.

So you have to put your good news glasses on when you read or consider anything.
 
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